British Newspaper Finally Stops Publishing Paid Propaganda from the Chinese Communist Party

A poster showing the late Chinese chairman Mao Zedong hangs on a wall inside a restaurant in Beijing on May 13, 2016. Fifty years after the Cultural Revolution spread bloodshed and turmoil across China, the Communist-ruled country is driving firmly down the capitalist road, but Mao Zedong's legacy remains -- …

A leading British newspaper has decided to stop running paid propaganda articles from a mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) amidst a global effort by the regime in Beijing to influence Western opinion on the Wuhan virus pandemic.

The Daily Telegraph has removed its longstanding ‘China Watch’ section, which the paper has run for over ten years. The segment featured propaganda articles from the Chinese state-sponsored media outlet China Daily. Another part which ran articles from the People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, has been removed as well.

According to The Guardian, some examples of articles that have since been deleted by the paper include: “Why are some framing China’s heroic efforts to stop coronavirus as inhumane?”; “Traditional Chinese medicine ‘helps fight coronavirus'”; and “Coronavirus outbreak is not an opportunity to score points against China”.

The Telegraph reportedly earned £750,000 per year to run the China Watch communist propaganda pieces. The paper did not give a reason for deleting the section. However, it comes as British officials have expressed concern the communist nation is spreading disinformation online to mislead Western audiences during the coronavirus pandemic.

Other Western newspapers including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal have all run paid articles from China Daily in the past.  The New York Times said that it had discontinued the section earlier this year after its editorial board decided “to stop accepting branded content ads from state-run media, which includes China Daily”.

In March, the same American three papers were all banned from reporting inside China by the government in Beijing during the height of the coronavirus crisis.

China has long been accused of trying to exploit press freedoms in the West to sway public opinion in its favour.

During the height of the trade war between the United States and China in 2018, the CCP ran a four-page advertisement from China Daily in Iowa’s Des Moines Register, touting the benefits that trade with China has brought to local Iowans.

Responding to the propaganda piece, former governor of Iowa and the current American ambassador to China, Terry Brandstad, wrote: “In disseminating its propaganda, China’s government is availing itself of America’s cherished tradition of free speech and a free press by placing a paid advertisement in the Des Moines Register.”

“In contrast, at the newsstand down the street here in Beijing, you will find limited dissenting voices and will not see any true reflection of the disparate opinions that the Chinese people may have on China’s troubling economic trajectory, given that media is under the firm thumb of the Chinese Communist Party,” he added.

Follow Kurt on Twitter at @KurtZindulka


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